Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
In The New York Times, Tatjana Soli gives high praise to Snow Hunters, the first novel by Once the Shore author and Best American Short Stories alumnus Paul Yoon. The novel, which tells the tale of a North Korean refugee named Yohan, proves that Yoon is “well-suited to the short form,” she writes. (Related: Soli has written for us.)
New this week: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro; A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray; After Everything by Suellen Dainty; The Blue Buick by B.H. Fairchild; Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley; and a new translation of The Bacchae by Euripides. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Not everyone is a fan of Haruki Murakami’s latest short story, “Drive My Car.” Residents of Nakatonbetsu, Japan claim Murakami sullied its reputation when he suggested that residents throw cigarettes from car windows. The offending passage reads: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does,” a character thinks when he tosses his lit cigarette out. Hopefully, the smoke clears soon.
Art is about connecting the dots, Amanda Palmer proposed in her keynote address on creativity and sharing art in the internet age at the 2013 Grub Muse Literary Conference earlier this month. “For every bridge you build together with your community of readers, there’s a new set of trolls who sit underneath it,” she said about the internet.
We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?